Serif CraftArtist 2 Professional review
Serif's CraftArtist 2 Professional software aims to help keen hobbyists and crafters design and create all sorts of craft projects on their PC. It offers various templates, backgrounds, embellishments and effects, all managed and edited through a consistent and familiar interface, allowing artists to experiment with various craft ideas and executions without getting their fingers covered in glue. It's inexpensive and doesn't require a particularly powerful PC, but you'll need a reasonable amount of free disk space, especially if you want to work with high-resolution photo content.
CraftArtist 2 starts with a simple Getting Started Wizard that lets new users view a set of helpful and well-produced videos that explain what the software can do. The wizard also contains various options for getting started, including the choice of beginning with a predefined template or a blank project. Templates cover a range of projects, from greetings or congratulation cards to party items and even gift boxes.
Page setup helps ensure your projects end up looking as you intend
The various templates and other crafting material such as backgrounds and artwork are contained within ‘digikits’. The included DayDream pack follows a fairly kitsch theme, being big on turquoise, pinks and various flowers, but other digikits are available for download from Serif's DaisyTrail crafting website. Many of these are free once you've registered, but the free packs mostly only cover various holiday themes such as Christmas, Easter and Halloween, and in many cases they seem a little twee.
CraftArtist 2 did its best to disguise our lack of artistic talent
Fortunately, there's a wide range of other digikits produced by Serif and various third-parties. If you’re willing to pay for your digipacks you’ll find more interesting materials. There are several steampunk packs, for example. While the cheapest non-free digikits are just £2 or so, several cost around £7. It's better value to buy collections of digikits, although these range from £10 up to £24, which is more than CraftArtist 2 Professional itself. We were keen on the Era range of digikits, which is comprised of themed packs celebrating the 1920s, 40s, 50s and some other eras.
Make your own CraftArtist 2 digikit, or buy one
Once installed, a pack's contents are added to the resources available for creating and working on a project. Unfortunately, all of the free and paid-for packs we checked were only licensed for personal use, or personal and 'angel' use, which essentially means limited editions of up to 200 items. The terms of all packs ruled out commercial use, including the creation of flyers or signs, which could limit its use. It's worth pointing out, however, that it's possible to create fully original work in CraftArtist 2 without using any digikit content at all, or to create a digikit from your own image files.